Intex Mobiles, the Indian brand can claim to be one of the early manufacturers to bring out a smartphone with the Firefox OS. The Intex Cloud FX is a decent looking phone for the price of Rs. 1999, but does it really have everything that comes together to call this a smartphone? Let’s find out.
In our design overview and photo gallery, we mentioned that the phone doesn’t really look like a great phone, but there is nothing bad as well. Most of the button and port placement is good enough, except for the MicroUSB port, which is on the top of left panel. The matte finish on the back does give some friction against slipping, but anyway the phone is small enough to fit into the hand and thus can be well held. There is just one touch-sensitive button below the display, and no other buttons beside it or within the display.
The power button is on the top, and there is a 3.5mm jack beside it. Turning the phone back, you would see the brand logos of Intex and Firefox OS The back cover is removable, and the thin cover when pulled out, exposes the battery and under that there are slots for the MicroSD and two SIM cards. Overall, the design is decent enough and actually this is better than what you would get for a cheap phone for this price.
The display on Intex Cloud FX comes with a low resolution of 480×320 pixels and that is not really bad because the color output is decent enough, but do not expect to get great view from side angles, because you will be able to see the content well from only the front but not from even a little side angle. We are expecting too much if we wanted good viewing angles on this little device.
The brightness too is not great, but at least we were able to read the content properly in bright conditions, though that is not the case under sunlight. The screen tends to look like being on low brightness under the sunlight, although we have set it on full brightness. This could prove a little disappointing for those who spend a lot of time traveling, walking in natural light.
What we really had to put a focus on, was the Firefox OS, and it is quite interesting and is not that bad, although we found several issues on our first few days of usage itself. Only because these issues were not restricting the regular usage of the phone, they were not easily noticeable, but yes, these issues can give an overall bad experience for the Firefox OS users. Right from the lock screen, you keep wondering about what specials you might find here and there (just like one keeps talking about the hidden options and tricks in other smartphone OS), but you end up getting nothing except for the simple interface, although the adaptive search is something worth trying.
Using it for a week and the final feeling about the OS is that the Firefox OS is made not for low-end devices, because the adaptive search and the apps are all not well furnished to work on low RAM and low-power processors. At least that is what we experienced with the Intex Cloud FX we reviewed, and sometimes after continuous usage, opening an application took even more than half a minute. That doesn’t sound good if someone plans to use this phone as a primary device after having used the feature phones for a long time, and because those feature phones never give up with the functions although there are limited things you could do with it.
The RAM in Intex Cloud FX is 128MB and we noticed the apps automatically being closed in the background once we open any other extra apps. Keeping aside the details about the processors, cores and clock speed, the actual performance isn’t good at all. Compromises in every other aspect can be acceptable, but when the performance itself isn’t what one would least expect, the phone is not worthy of a purchase. The keyboard too is slow enough that quick typing won’t be read well and you could end up seeing some other text than what you typed because it does not recognize the pattern of your typing.
Talking of the features and applications, this is the interesting part. The apps seen pre-installed in the Cloud FX include Camera, Gallery, FM Radio, Marketplace, Calendar, Data usage, Email, Music, Video, File Manager and a few entertainment apps like ConnectA2, 2048 game, Facebook and Youtube. The marketplace is quite loaded with many frequently used apps, but the missing apps include the ones like WhatsApp, Hike, etc. Of course there are alternatives, but the actual apps are not available in the marketplace and there is no way you can try and install them from an external source.
This is a Dual SIM device, and there are settings to turn the Wi-Fi hotspot on, and also share the data network using USB tethering, although the best network you can connect to, is the 2G EDGE data network. There is no GPS locator but the geo-location feature helps find the approximate location using either mobile network or Wi-Fi network. While the specs sheet reads that 4GB of external storage card is supported, a 32GB MicroSD card was read and it was supported, surprisingly. But at the same time, you are bound to spend a little extra for the phone because a MicroSD card is necessary, because you don’t get even 20MB of internal storage for media files, and about 70MB is there for app storage.
There is no clarity about the OS version the phone is running, and the software update system is not able to fetch any information about OS updates, giving a constant error when prompting the device to check for any updates. Firefox OS comes with the Firefox browser, which is decent on looks but not the same on performance and loading of websites. Sometimes, a heavy page stops loading mid-way. While nothing much is seen in the settings, Firefox OS has made sure that the user can control the privacy while browsing the websites. There is a setting called “Do Not Track” where the user can decide and tell the website not to track the usage behavior.
The notification panel comes with toggles for Wi-Fi, Data network, Bluetooth and Airplane mode along with the shortcut for Settings app.
The 2-megapixel camera on the back of the Intex Cloud FX doesn’t do a good job of capturing pictures in any conditions, with any level of light. There is no focusing, and this is not what one should get for a 2-megapixel lens. The camera app too doesn’t have any options except for the toggle for video and photo mode, and once the capture is done, you can at least try to give some effects to it, or crop the image by going to the Gallery app. You can judge the quality of camera with the capture samples given below.
Another really disappointing feature and the biggest deal breaker, is the 1250 mAh battery that doesn’t last for an entire day, even with no usage and when only one SIM card is there on standby. For the exact numbers, we found the Intex Cloud FX to go down from 100% battery to zero in exactly 13 hours and 20 minutes, and during this period, the screen was not turned on even once and the SIM was just there with no calls, messages at all. After removing even the SIM card, the phone on standby could survive for approximately 5 hours more, making it 18 hours for the device to survive without any activity.
With the USB charging from a laptop, it took around 3 hours for the battery to get fully charged from zero, but from the direct power adapter, it took just a little above 2 hours, which still isn’t a good sign because you have to give the phone at least a couple hours every day and cannot even expect it to survive for an entire day.
Neither Firefox, nor Intex have made this phone to compete with the standard smartphones, and even the pricing is set at a point where only the feature phones are available, but the biggest drawback with the device is that, it doesn’t give a good experience at all. Whatever the price, whatever the OS or special features, if a phone user is not able to use the phone with ease and is not seeing the phone stay with even a little battery towards the end of the day with regular usage, the phone is not worth buying. This is still a start for the Firefox OS but Intex did a lot of compromise with everything they included, both internally and externally to bring out the phone in the market for this low price point. Firefox OS is interesting, with no big fuss or confusion, but the experience gets a hit with the non-responsive apps, the poor battery and a camera that cannot match even the 2MP camera of a low-end device. It would be wise to raise the budget a little higher and go for a decent phone, rather than this.